Meg Mattingly and John Brewster recently hosted their third annual Backyard Story Night at the Historic Scoot Inn. The event broke the crowd record with a total of over 600 attendees, with audience members squeezing on benches and laying blankets out on the ground to have a place to sit.
Backyard Story Night began when Mattingly and Brewster hosted the first story night in Mattingly’s backyard two years ago. Brewster brought the idea to Mattingly after being influenced by programs like “The Moth,” an event where stories are told live.
Fifty-eight people RSVP’d for the first story night, and after the successful night, audience members asked when the next one would take place. Since then, untrained storytellers have come each year to recount the not-so-ordinary happenstances of their lives.
The theme for this year’s Backyard Story Night was “Take Me for a Ride,” and each story definitely did just that — from the story of a man almost getting killed on his family vacation in Italy to a hiker almost getting hit by a ram on a trip into a mountain.
The atmosphere at the event was incomparable. No one really took themselves too seriously, and the audience was very carefree and supportive. Events like this one are the true epitome of Austin: fun and just plain weird.
Of all the variety of events to go to in Austin, this has to be one of the best, especially because admission is free of charge.
Mattingly and Brewster said they never wanted to charge to enter the show; however, they highly encouraged the audience to donate to Austin Sunshine Camps at the door. With drinks available to purchase at the bar, most everyone — beer-in-hand — laid out folding lawn chairs, blankets and benches to enjoy the show.
The show wouldn’t have been an Austin event without the occasional dog here and there.
To tell a story at Backyard Story Night, zero experience is needed. The variety of storytellers ranged from average post-graduate Austinites to French teachers.
While there were many noteworthy stories that had the audience drunkenly gripping their stomachs in laughter, there were a few that really stood out.
One man told the story of how he and his college buddies snuck into a party at a bar pretending to work for a company in Dublin. The college guys would then add every drink to the company’s tab until the storyteller ran into a big Irishman who threatened to beat him up.
Another story told the unfortunate events of an incredibly book-smart hiker who went to a mountain with his two friends, only to find himself face-to-face with charging ram. Even after escaping its path, the man had to be carried by his buddies after slipping on a rock and cutting his head open on the walk to the car.